The two Sedras we read this week allow us tie catch up with the Torah readings in Israel. What seems to link them is the difficulty of understanding what God wants of us.
In Parshat Chukkat we come across the story of the Red Heifer. It is inexplicable. It is understood as a “chuk”; a commandment which we must fulfil without enquiry. It is God's will. This inconsistency can be traced in both Parashot.
Why does God instruct Moses to take his staff with him when he is told to speak to the rock to bring forth water? Without a staff he would not have struck the rock. Moses was going to be denied the right to enter the Land but why, later in the journey, was Aaron punished in the same way for the same reason?
In the Parshat Balak God begins by telling Bilaam:
If these men have come to call for you, arise and go with them
God's wrath flared because he was going
Somehow, we, as a people, have survived. We argue, complain and dispute. When we look for rational understanding of the events in our lives, we realise our limits.
We may not understand God’s purpose. Rituals and willingness to follow our faith has somehow preserved us. The true test of our faith is our willingness to engage with life.